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Old December 3rd, 2014, 01:15 AM   #2741
Joshua Dodd
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
What are the realistic changes of UP or BNSF electrifying a whole route from Los Angeles to Dallas or Oakland to Chicago? That would allow more modern locos to run even longer trains that would suffer less on grade sectors, reducing the need for helpers and the like (they could put them equally spaced within a long train).

Highly unlikely. In fact, it is currently inefficient.

For the most part an electrification of these rails would not be as efficient for the freight tonnage. Europe's rails are predominantly passenger. About 90% passenger. The US rail system is 90% freight. There are also major operational issues with the use of electric locomotives. Though a diesel locomotive may go wherever it wish, an electric locomotive must necessarily remain under wire. Not only does this necessitate the expense of electrifying branch lines or maintaining a diesel fleet in electrified areas to handle traffic not originating or terminating on the mainline, but it also points to the problem that electric locomotives are power limited based on external factors to a degree that diesel locomotives are not. While any number of diesel locomotives may use up to their full ratings in a given area, subject only to the physical capabilities of drawbars and car couplings, a given substation can only provide a certain amount of power, providing an additional constraint on train capacity which requires additional or larger substations to overcome, increasing the expense still further. Again the US is 90% freight. To move the same number of tons, around seven times more trains are necessary in Europe. For a thousand tons the U.S. Class I railroads require 0.28 trains; in Europe it is 1.94. So European electrified rail costs are vastly larger. Operational costs per ton mile in Europe are almost more than double that of the US.

Having more trains (even if smaller) for less cargo moved implies higher fixed and variable costs. It implies more labor, line capacity use, and a smaller net/gross tons ratio per train for the same amount of goods moved. This explains to a large extent why U.S. railways are profitable and have been financially stable for the last 10 years, while in Europe their financial situation is, at best, precarious.

In conclusion, it is highly improbable that the US will electrify its freight lines. The lesson learned: Freight is better as is while passenger is best electrified. The only practical electrification is for passenger service and we are hopeful that a new high speed infrastructure will do that job. Don't forget that Conrail experimented with electrified freight rail. Needless to say that experiment was ditched in the 80s.

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Old December 3rd, 2014, 04:13 AM   #2742
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Old December 3rd, 2014, 05:26 AM   #2743
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Texas could see construction of the US's first high speed rail in 2016. (...) More than 100 miles of the 240-mile corridor would be built on elevated tracks to reduce the impact on communities (...).
I believe it when I see it! That infrastructure projects of such scale can be built more efficiently/cheaper by a non-government entity and paid for by someone other than the government (federal, state, or local) has to be proven first. I doubt it!

And good luck in particular with the 100 miles of elevated track; that is going to cost an arm and a leg. Those who think the first phase of the California HSR project is expensive (cost per mile of track) will be even more astonished here. This project is very likely going to cost significantly more (elevated track vs. at-grade). The high costs of the CA HSR project are (overwhelmingly) not a result of ineffective government management but a direct consequence of the complexities of such projects and the costs of labor in the U.S. People who don't like government infrastructure spending might not like it but it's true nevertheless.

Also good luck with acquiring the necessary land. Because eminent domain is not supposed to be used for the benefit of a private business. You will have to pay a premium then or deal with construction delays because of the legal proceedings. Again, the delays of the CA HSR project are (overwhelmingly) not a result of ineffective government management but a direct consequence of the complexities of such projects.

I'm not trying to say that there aren't any issues with the way CA is handling its HSR project but to assume that all issues can be resolved just because a project is managed/financed privately is wishful thinking based on ideology rather than fact.
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Old December 3rd, 2014, 09:01 AM   #2744
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^I'd want to thumbs up this post twice.

Benjaminh is right. Large scale infrastructure is a natural monopoly and beneficial to society as a whole. Its ROI will not cover its initial investment cost, but its indirect benefits far outweigh the total investment. Private companies have an obligation to maximize their own profit--they can pursue maximum profits in fast food or athletic shoes, but they're not going to replace the role of government itself in terms of infrastructure investment.

Postwar European reconstruction, Japanese Shinkansen, the present-day Chinese HSR were/are all bankrolled by the government. Their startup costs were/are very high, and they were built with maximum utility in mind--they weren't meant to generate a profit. But you could scoff at these socialist endeavors and say that true blue Americans wouldn't tolerate this road to serfdom. And you'd be wrong. Go back to the New Deal Interstate program. Go back to campaigns for public schools and public health and even the post office. And on a more pragmatic basis, infrastructure investment IS GOOD. Increasing productivity helps society.

You do have a few private companies dipping their fingers into public infrastructure. These companies generally want the smallest, most profitable share of the pie (e.g. BosWash corridor). Or they want to get some fat profits off inflated financing or consulting billings. Or they'll wait until the construction is done, then complain about supposed government inefficiency and lobby for infrastructure privatization--essentially having the public pay for the high upfront costs, then having a private company collect its future revenues.
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Old December 3rd, 2014, 02:13 PM   #2745
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I think the biggest issue is community outreach, which both of these groups have been pretty bad at.

The CA authority financial plan makes perfect sense, but they keep fumbling the ball on how they explain it to people. It took them months before they realized they needed to explicitly point out that the point of the IOS is to connect the existing rail connections near SF to the ones near LA (i.e. getting an end-to-end service, without having to build the entire system at once), borrow against fares to build the rest, all the while seeking profits through development around their stations. It's perfectly reasonable. In any case, much of the cost would be significantly less if they weren't financing it over 20+ years (people always forget about our little friend, interest).

It remains to be seen just how the TX Central group will finance the project (I don't see any single investor or bank shelling out big bucks to do this). As much as they wear it as a badge of pride, I don't buy their claim that they won't receive any public funding (e.g. eminent domain, grants, loans). At some point, they'll ask for something. Also, even though their route will require fewer takings, many of those they will be required to undertake will be just as difficult as in CA (if the current grumbling is any indication)...

To say nothing of the fact that the CAHSRA is a better model, so long as the bidding process is actually competitive (I have some suspicions that Amtrak may be one of the few to successfully bid to operate service). For all effects and purposes, it's a PPP model, which will mean (at the very least) cheaper fares (if not better service), since the authority will seek other means to recoup their capital costs (TOD) and the operator won't have any baggage beyond "renting" the right to use the ROW.

My biggest problem with TX Central is with their decision to also serve as operators of the service. In that instance, they only have to price competitively with air fares and not with any other rail operators.
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Old December 3rd, 2014, 11:14 PM   #2746
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Originally Posted by Joshua Dodd View Post
For the most part an electrification of these rails would not be as efficient for the freight tonnage. Europe's rails are predominantly passenger. About 90% passenger. The US rail system is 90% freight. There are also major operational issues with the use of electric locomotives. Though a diesel locomotive may go wherever it wish, an electric locomotive must necessarily remain under wire. Not only does this necessitate the expense of electrifying branch lines or maintaining a diesel fleet in electrified areas to handle traffic not originating or terminating on the mainline, but it also points to the problem that electric locomotives are power limited based on external factors to a degree that diesel locomotives are not. While any number of diesel locomotives may use up to their full ratings in a given area, subject only to the physical capabilities of drawbars and car couplings, a given substation can only provide a certain amount of power, providing an additional constraint on train capacity which requires additional or larger substations to overcome, increasing the expense still further. Again the US is 90% freight. To move the same number of tons, around seven times more trains are necessary in Europe. For a thousand tons the U.S. Class I railroads require 0.28 trains; in Europe it is 1.94. So European electrified rail costs are vastly larger. Operational costs per ton mile in Europe are almost more than double that of the US.

Having more trains (even if smaller) for less cargo moved implies higher fixed and variable costs. It implies more labor, line capacity use, and a smaller net/gross tons ratio per train for the same amount of goods moved. This explains to a large extent why U.S. railways are profitable and have been financially stable for the last 10 years, while in Europe their financial situation is, at best, precarious.

In conclusion, it is highly improbable that the US will electrify its freight lines. The lesson learned: Freight is better as is while passenger is best electrified. The only practical electrification is for passenger service and we are hopeful that a new high speed infrastructure will do that job. Don't forget that Conrail experimented with electrified freight rail. Needless to say that experiment was ditched in the 80s.

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Old December 3rd, 2014, 11:49 PM   #2747
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Quote:
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Large scale infrastructure is a natural monopoly(...).
You're making a very good point there (that I forgot to include in my little litany about privately financed infrastructure projects): Basic economic theory postulates that certain economic decisions, because of their inherent characteristics, will/must always lead to inefficient results in a purely market based system. And this is not in any way a normative statement about market economies (I'm a big fan); it's a simple fact that can be understood based on economics 101. There are other situations in which similar things happen (asymmetric information, market power,...).

One more comment with regard to the TX HSR project in particular: Even if this worked the way it's supposed to (project managed and financed privately), the timeline (construction start 2016) would still be nothing but unrealistic. No one can tell me that over the next 24 months a) the necessary environmental studies will be finished, b) funding (double digit billion dollars) secured, c) land acquired, d) engineering of 240 miles of rail completed, and e) tenders put out and contracts awarded. Experience with similar large scale endeavors (East Side Access in NYC, Metro Silver Line in DC, Gateway Tunnel project, CA HSR,...) shows that it won't happen this quickly.

The general problem seems to be that every time a major infrastructure project is planned and the associated costs/implications become clear, someone claims that he/she can do it cheaper, quicker, more efficient, and less intrusive. And people fall for it even though at a later stage (if the allegedly better proposal ever gets to that point) it becomes clear that the costs, complexities, etc. were radically understated.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 01:03 AM   #2748
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I believe it when I see it! That infrastructure projects of such scale can be built more efficiently/cheaper by a non-government entity and paid for by someone other than the government (federal, state, or local) has to be proven first. I doubt it!

And good luck in particular with the 100 miles of elevated track; that is going to cost an arm and a leg. Those who think the first phase of the California HSR project is expensive (cost per mile of track) will be even more astonished here. This project is very likely going to cost significantly more (elevated track vs. at-grade). The high costs of the CA HSR project are (overwhelmingly) not a result of ineffective government management but a direct consequence of the complexities of such projects and the costs of labor in the U.S. People who don't like government infrastructure spending might not like it but it's true nevertheless.

Also good luck with acquiring the necessary land. Because eminent domain is not supposed to be used for the benefit of a private business. You will have to pay a premium then or deal with construction delays because of the legal proceedings. Again, the delays of the CA HSR project are (overwhelmingly) not a result of ineffective government management but a direct consequence of the complexities of such projects.

I'm not trying to say that there aren't any issues with the way CA is handling its HSR project but to assume that all issues can be resolved just because a project is managed/financed privately is wishful thinking based on ideology rather than fact.
What remains true is that there are only three high speed rail projects in the US that are in advanced stages of development. This includes, of course, California and Texas, but also Florida.

Japan Railway has been trying to enter the US market for quite sometime now and hopes were high after Obama unveiled his vision of a high speed rail network in the US shortly after his inauguration in 2009. As you have pointed out there have been numerous issues obstructing much progress. Land right issues, engineering costs, ect ect ect. Indeed it is a massive headache.

However, as of current, Japan Railway has had more progress working with the Texas Central Railway. Texas Central, formerly Lone Star High-Speed Rail, was created in 2010 to develop a platform for Japan Railway’s technology in America. Texas Central officials say Japan Railway is not financing the Texas project, but is a “promotional and technical partner.” If the project moves forward, J.R. Central would sell its trains to the company and play some advisory role on the system’s operations, but the extent of its intended involvement is unclear.

Where is funding coming from? I myself was curious as to know where they will attain the necessary funds to execute such a large scale project as its cost is expected to range at 10 billion dollars. That's a lot of money to be found privately. According to the TCR CEO, Richard Lawless, who is refusing any form of government subsidy for the project, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation participated in “an exhaustive study” of the Dallas-Houston line and is willing to back the project. It’s expected to provide up to half the debt financing for the Texas line, with “extremely attractive” interest rates, he said. The loan could be $3.5 billion or higher, depending on the final costs and debt-to-equity structure. (This is as of November 2014) The bank also has the authority to throw in an equity investment in high-speed rail, a provision that was adopted in 2012, he said.

Again, we will have to wait and see how this plans out.

As for your dubious skepticism about land acquisitions, I would like to point out that a possible route might be underway after the environmental study is completed. Originally there were nine proposals. That has been slashed down to 3. One proposal is more likely than the rest, which is building the line along existing BNSF and UP railroad right of ways. According to the TCR's website the track would have a very narrow footprint (approximately 80 ft. in width), including security fencing; and will only require surface access rights, so Texans can retain complete ownership of the land itself, including 100% of all their oil, mineral and gas rights. For the most part they are working with the BNSF and UP to build along their right of ways.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 01:05 AM   #2749
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Quote:
Originally Posted by particlez View Post
^I'd want to thumbs up this post twice.

Benjaminh is right. Large scale infrastructure is a natural monopoly and beneficial to society as a whole. Its ROI will not cover its initial investment cost, but its indirect benefits far outweigh the total investment. Private companies have an obligation to maximize their own profit--they can pursue maximum profits in fast food or athletic shoes, but they're not going to replace the role of government itself in terms of infrastructure investment.

Postwar European reconstruction, Japanese Shinkansen, the present-day Chinese HSR were/are all bankrolled by the government. Their startup costs were/are very high, and they were built with maximum utility in mind--they weren't meant to generate a profit. But you could scoff at these socialist endeavors and say that true blue Americans wouldn't tolerate this road to serfdom. And you'd be wrong. Go back to the New Deal Interstate program. Go back to campaigns for public schools and public health and even the post office. And on a more pragmatic basis, infrastructure investment IS GOOD. Increasing productivity helps society.

You do have a few private companies dipping their fingers into public infrastructure. These companies generally want the smallest, most profitable share of the pie (e.g. BosWash corridor). Or they want to get some fat profits off inflated financing or consulting billings. Or they'll wait until the construction is done, then complain about supposed government inefficiency and lobby for infrastructure privatization--essentially having the public pay for the high upfront costs, then having a private company collect its future revenues.
You do realize that American freight rails, a massive infrastructure that our economy is dependent on, are financed privately entirely. In the mid 20th century the American railroads were on near collapse because of over regulation. After the Stagglers Act deregulated the industry American rails have experienced a Renaissance style boom. Each year the companies invest billions upon billions on improving infrastructure and their profit margins have increased as a result as well as an 80% efficiency increase since the 1980s.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 01:12 AM   #2750
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Cool trains.

But again you missed a major point: 90% of all European rails are passenger and do not carry nearly the capacity of freight tonnage US rails do. Also, US freight locomotives are extremely heavy, as well as cars, in comparison with European rails. Cars and locomotives are designed to haul larger loads of freight. This is why they are also built with larger dimensions.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 01:13 AM   #2751
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European freight trains are usually shorter not because they are electric-powered, but because of signaling blocks. They don't want to mess with the blocks.

25kV AC electrification can deliver much traction power equivalent with relatively limited number of substations. Things change if you go for 3kV DC....

I'd also say the ridiculously outdated coupling mechanisms used on freight trains in Europe are the major reason by which longer trains are difficult to come by, regardless of traction.

Some new freight-only lines are planned. One has been built: the Betuweroute in Netherlands - it only carries freight, opened in the 2000s between the Port of Rotterdam and the German border in Emmerich. A state-of-the-art freight railway

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Old December 4th, 2014, 01:24 AM   #2752
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You do realize that American freight rails, a massive infrastructure that our economy is dependent on, are financed privately entirely.
People do realize that. But the fact that private railroads own freight infrastructure in the U.S. doesn't mean that there is sufficient competition in the market and it doesn't mean that the outcomes are efficient (from an economics perspective). The argument goes like this (simplified, I admit): A private business that builds a railroad line is not going to share it with potential competitors because it needs to earn the money back that it spent on the construction and that works best if it monopolizes the supply side. For real competition to develop, a different company would have to build its own tracks then. That's not likely (because it requires significant amounts of money) and, if it does happen, it's not efficient (again, from an economics perspective) because you would end up with two parallel railroad lines. It would be more efficient (and this has nothing to do with pro- or anti-government ideology) if the public/the government built one line and let multiple competing railroad companies use it in return for usage fees.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 01:29 AM   #2753
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To build on what Suburbanist said on this subject :

Longer/heavier trains have been tried in Europe but the main limiting
factor is the signalling system, the length of sidings, and the strength of the
couplers.

But, don't paint this with a too wide brush. The two pictures shown depicts
two examples where freight, not passenger, is predominant. The first is a
picture of a dedicated line to bring iron ore from the mine to the sea shore.
Locos feature 2x5400kW and 600 kN of tractive effort, pulling trains of 8600 tons.

The second is a picture of a russian freight train; I don't know the specifics
of the loco, but this network is definitely not passenger-predominant, yet it
is massively electrified, and undoubtly successful.

Those two networks, however, have adequate infrastructure for long and heavy
trains.

So, yes, electrification of freight-oriented railroads can be successful.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 02:39 AM   #2754
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People do realize that. But the fact that private railroads own freight infrastructure in the U.S. doesn't mean that there is sufficient competition in the market and it doesn't mean that the outcomes are efficient (from an economics perspective). The argument goes like this (simplified, I admit): A private business that builds a railroad line is not going to share it with potential competitors because it needs to earn the money back that it spent on the construction and that works best if it monopolizes the supply side. For real competition to develop, a different company would have to build its own tracks then. That's not likely (because it requires significant amounts of money) and, if it does happen, it's not efficient (again, from an economics perspective) because you would end up with two parallel railroad lines. It would be more efficient (and this has nothing to do with pro- or anti-government ideology) if the public/the government built one line and let multiple competing railroad companies use it in return for usage fees.

Looking at the 1950s when there were more than 50 Class I railroads vs today's 6 Class I railroads that are left, a fair estimation can be asserted that there is a lack of competition. However, there are several factors that must be considered that disprove this estimation. You must remember that there are three different classifications of railroads: Class I, Class II and Class III. There are many short line and regional rail lines that have sprouted post Staggers Act era. (last 30 years)

In the sanctity of eschewing ideological bias, lets take a historical perspective to answer your points.

The reason why there seems to be a fair lacking of competition in the rail industry is because during the 1970s the railroad experienced a fallout of bankruptcies that decimated it. More than 21 percent of the nation’s rail mileage was accounted for by bankrupt railroads. Between 1970 and 1979, the rail industry’s return on investment never exceeded 2.9 percent and averaged 2.0 percent. Railroads’ low average rate of return had been falling for decades: it was 4.1 percent in the 1940s, 3.7 percent in the 1950s, and 2.8 percent in the 1960s. By 1978, the railroad share of intercity freight had fallen to 35 percent, down from 75 percent in the 1920s. Growth in air and truck technology, especially with the freeways, contributed to this. Railroads lacked the funds to properly maintain their tracks. By 1976, more than 47,000 miles of track had to be operated at reduced speeds because of unsafe conditions. Deferred maintenance — maintenance that needed to be done but railroads could not afford — was in the billions of dollars.

Conrail was charted by the federal government to figure out why this was happening at such a dramatic scale. Over-regulation of the industry was discovered to be the culprit, which resulted in the deregulation of the industry via the Staggers Act of 1980.

As a way to survive, the industry went into a rapid phase of mergers. One after another, major lines absorbed such as the Pennsylvania merging with the New York Central, becoming Penn Central, which was then transformed into Conrail. Great Northern merging with the Burlington Route, becoming the Burlington Northern, which then merged with the Santa Fe, becoming what is today the BNSF. Many Class I lines were unfortunate to collapse because of the over regulations. Government was also regulating the railroad with fixed fee prices for freight transport. With the Staggers Act passage it allowed railroads to base most of their rates on market demand instead of government controls. It allowed railroads and shippers to enter into confidential contracts; streamlined procedures for the sale of rail lines to new short line railroads; recognized railroads’ need to earn adequate revenues.


"A private business that builds a railroad line is not going to share it with potential competitors because it needs to earn the money back that it spent on the construction and that works best if it monopolizes the supply side."

This is an absolutely false statement. American railroads do, in fact, allow other competitors to use their freight lines. This is common throughout the US corridors. Competitors are even known to serve shippers and receivers on other company's rails. This is done so through usage fees. For instance, where I live, the BNSF runs a mainline that the UP uses to haul local freight. This brings in sufficient funds to maintain and invest into the infrastructure, thus making it financially viable without the use of any government subsidy.

"For real competition to develop, a different company would have to build its own tracks then. That's not likely (because it requires significant amounts of money) and, if it does happen, it's not efficient (again, from an economics perspective) because you would end up with two parallel railroad lines."

For a new Class I railroad I can see this being true, but only for that case. Aside that this is also false and the last 30 years of post Staggers Act has proven so. Many start up lines use former abandoned tracks that were disused after the collapses of the 70s. Some examples would be the Fort Worth and Western, Wheeling and Lake Eerie, R.J. Corman railroad, ect ect. All these lines use either former abandoned lines or share usage rights along Class I competitor lines. New competitor Class III and II rail lines now operate more than 45,000 miles of rails.

You keep saying it is not economically viable to allow a private business to run imperative infrastructure. But this is absolutely false. Rail market share is now approximately 40%, more than any other transportation. Freight railroads have reinvested $550 billion of their own funds back into their
operations to create a national freight rail network that is second to none in the world. Without government it is actually proving more efficient. Rail industry productivity has shot up by 130%. Railroads are stronger financially.
Return on investment rose to 4.4 percent in the 1980s, 7.0 percent in the 1990s, and 9.2 percent from 2000 to 2013. Improved rail earnings are a positive development because they allow railroads to more readily afford the massive investments needed to keep their track and equipment in top condition, improve service, and add the new rail capacity that America will need in the years ahead.

Based on these statistical facts, economics actually encourages the absolute separation of government and rail infrastructure.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 05:03 AM   #2755
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Let me first say, Joshua Dodd, that I really enjoy having a fact-based and non-ideologic discussion about a complex issue which is usually hard to find in forums/threads. I also admit that you certainly know (much) more than I do about the history and current situation of freight rail in the U.S. And I admit that the remarks I made about postulates of economic theory certainly do not apply to every specific case since reality is usually much more complicated than the ceteris paribus deductions of economic theory.

What I was trying to do was to start a discussion about the viability of a privately funded high speed rail system in the U.S. In my opinion, there is a reason why most countries have chosen to build HSR lines/systems financed by the/a government (federal/state/local). The reason seems to be that passenger rail isn't profitable if you take into account the up front infrastructure costs. My understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that the price that is determined in the market place is too low - because of competition by other modes of transportation that did not require the same investment - to cover the variable costs of high speed rail as well as the fixed costs of the infrastructure. Take Amtrak's NEC for example: Acela as well as the NE Regional are highly profitable but the profit is by far not high enough to build real HSR in the Northeast. In other words, Amtrak would not be able to earn back the money that would have been necessary to build the system in the first place either. My assumption is that this is not the case because of inefficiencies of the government-run Amtrak but because of the inherent characteristics of these types of economic activities. Now, you could theoretically make a private HSR business profitable if you could create a monopoly. It's probably not possible under real life conditions because you can't outlaw air traffic or intercity bus service between the respective cities. But even if you could, the system would be inefficient from an economics perspective as any monopoly is.

The approach that economic theory, in my opinion, suggests is a system where the infrastructure is built by the government and various service providers pay fees for the use of it. The competition of these service providers then creates efficient (from an economics perspective) prices. One could also have service providers bid for exclusive contracts; the competition would then take place in this bidding process and not the actual service provision. This is basically what has been undertaken in the UK after the privatization of British Rail in the 1990s. And even though not everything is perfect about that system, it actually does work better than people make it sound.

I apologize if I presented this in a confusing way. It's late and English is still my second language.

BTW: I would have no problem whatsoever with the TX HSR project succeeding. I think a Dallas-Houston link is actually one of the potential HSR projects that make the most sense (the others being NEC, CA, and possibly FL). And if this worked we would have found a solution for the decade old problem that certain regions deserve efficient HSR transportation but we don't seem to be able or willing to contribute enough taxpayer money to make it happen.
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Old December 6th, 2014, 05:10 AM   #2756
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New Dearborn, MI Amtrak Station - service begins 2014.12.10

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Originally Posted by Woonsocket54 View Post

A train station in Troy, MI opened earlier this month, and the new one in Dearborn, MI should open soon.
Press & Guide
http://www.pressandguide.com/article...d896121105.txt

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Train station construction finally reaching the end of the line

Published: Friday, December 05, 2014

By Jodi Rempala
Press & Guide

Amtrak passengers have to wait just a few more days before taking advantage of the new station’s amenities. It is scheduled to open Wednesday.

The first train will roll into the new station, 21201 Michigan Ave. at 6:51 a.m.

Amtrak is moving all of its operations from the current train station behind the Dearborn Police Station to the new 16,000-square-foot Dingell Transit Center.

City leaders say the transit center promotes intermodal transportation, connecting travelers via train, bus, taxi and pedestrian and bike paths to work, education, cultural attractions, shopping and recreation in Dearborn and beyond.

The station is an important component in initiatives to boost commuter rail from Ann Arbor to Detroit and accelerated speed rail from Pontiac to Chicago.

Six Amtrak trains will stop daily at Dingell Transit Center, with increased Amtrak service and the addition of commuter rail expected in the coming years.

Almost 80,000 passengers used the current Amtrak station during the 2014 fiscal year.

In fact, Dearborn is the most popular Amtrak location in the Detroit metropolitan area, according to Marc Magliari, spokesman for Amtrak.

He expects that number to grow.

“Dearborn is excited to be part of the future of rail. We will continue to work with our partners to increase convenient travel that starts in Dearborn and takes riders throughout southeast Michigan, as well as between Dearborn and Chicago,” said Mayor Jack O’Reilly.

“We’re anticipating bringing more customers to our Dearborn businesses and more visitors to our cultural and entertainment venues,” O’Reilly said. “And in the near future, people are going to find it very easy to get on a train in Dearborn and connect with the new M1-Rail in Detroit for an evening out or to go to a game.”

Magliari said Amtrak is planning to expand in the future, adding to the six lines already running from Dearborn.

Right now, he said the most popular trips from Michigan are to Chicago and sites in western Michigan.

The transit center was funded entirely with $28.2 million from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The city of Dearborn owns the station and the seven-acre site, while Amtrak will run the facility.

Residents hoping to get a look inside the new facility are welcome to attend an open house scheduled for Dec. 15.

The open house takes place from 4-6 p.m. at the transit center, which sits near Brady Street and marks the entrance to the west downtown business district.

During the open house, visitors can tour the station, see informative displays and talk with people knowledgeable about the future of train travel. A mural created by Dearborn students will also be featured.

Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) and his wife, Debbie are expected to be at the open house.

In addition, people attending the open house can enter a free drawing to win tickets to The Henry Ford’s popular Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village.

The Henry Ford has historic displays inside the center, including an iconic Davenport train engine.

The transit center also features a pedestrian bridge over the tracks that will allow travelers to access a new entrance to The Henry Ford complex, including the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, the IMAX Theater, and Ford Rouge Factory Tours.

About 1.6 million people a year visit The Henry Ford.

Ford Motor Company expects to showcase a new F-150 on site, as well.

The transit center has received a silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s

Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design. The building features a metal roof with solar collectors, energy efficient lighting and geothermal heating and cooling.
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Old December 8th, 2014, 06:07 AM   #2757
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Amtrak Cascades in Edmonds, WA - 2014.11.29


http://www.railpictures.net/viewphot...=509030&nseq=5

along Puget Sound
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Old December 9th, 2014, 07:55 AM   #2758
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You do realize that American freight rails, a massive infrastructure that our economy is dependent on, are financed privately entirely. In the mid 20th century the American railroads were on near collapse because of over regulation. After the Stagglers Act deregulated the industry American rails have experienced a Renaissance style boom. Each year the companies invest billions upon billions on improving infrastructure and their profit margins have increased as a result as well as an 80% efficiency increase since the 1980s.
@Joshua Dodd

By entirely "privately" financed, you're referring to smaller pre Civil War Southern railroads connecting cotton plantations to the nearest ports for export. These railways didn't require as much capital investment and were more easily profitable. Other more grandiose ventures like the Baltimore and Ohio Railway spanned a much larger area, had much higher upfront costs, and did require Governmental guarantees and more importantly, land grants for the railways.

The Intercontinental Railway connecting Omaha to Sacramento went over long distances, inhospitable, difficult, and often uninhabited terrain, and relied on large scale government subsidies. Worse yet, the railroad companies themselves were often crooks, embezzling via phantom finance charges. Thomas Durant and Credit Mobilier? Union Pacific went bankrupt multiple times--and it was bailed out by the government. Worse yet, the land grant giveaways empowered the Gilded Age's robber barons. I grew up in California. All the geographic references to Hopkins, Harriman, Crocker, Stanford, etc. sounded distinguished--until I realized they were just ruthless businessmen. Their railway company(ies) needed the government's help, yet they became billionaires from the railway land grant economic spinoffs.

So in short, hugely expensive infrastructure projects with no change of recouping their initial investment need government help. The upfront expenses are too high, the economic payback is too slow, and there's a lot of risk. Ditto with the interstates, airports, etc.

I'm not sure why you broached the Staggers Act.
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Old December 9th, 2014, 04:56 PM   #2759
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People do realize that. But the fact that private railroads own freight infrastructure in the U.S. doesn't mean that there is sufficient competition in the market and it doesn't mean that the outcomes are efficient (from an economics perspective). The argument goes like this (simplified, I admit): A private business that builds a railroad line is not going to share it with potential competitors because it needs to earn the money back that it spent on the construction and that works best if it monopolizes the supply side. For real competition to develop, a different company would have to build its own tracks then. That's not likely (because it requires significant amounts of money) and, if it does happen, it's not efficient (again, from an economics perspective) because you would end up with two parallel railroad lines. It would be more efficient (and this has nothing to do with pro- or anti-government ideology) if the public/the government built one line and let multiple competing railroad companies use it in return for usage fees.
The much more efficient solution to ensuring competition in the freight (and passenger) rail business is to split the track ownership from the train operations. Any company (and its associated companies) that own rail track cannot own or operate trains and vice-versa. Then both the rail network and the train operations are competitive on a level playing field. No government involvement is required except for enforcement of safety standards and the separation rule above.
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Old December 10th, 2014, 01:27 AM   #2760
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@Joshua Dodd

By entirely "privately" financed, you're referring to smaller pre Civil War Southern railroads connecting cotton plantations to the nearest ports for export. These railways didn't require as much capital investment and were more easily profitable. Other more grandiose ventures like the Baltimore and Ohio Railway spanned a much larger area, had much higher upfront costs, and did require Governmental guarantees and more importantly, land grants for the railways.

The Intercontinental Railway connecting Omaha to Sacramento went over long distances, inhospitable, difficult, and often uninhabited terrain, and relied on large scale government subsidies. Worse yet, the railroad companies themselves were often crooks, embezzling via phantom finance charges. Thomas Durant and Credit Mobilier? Union Pacific went bankrupt multiple times--and it was bailed out by the government. Worse yet, the land grant giveaways empowered the Gilded Age's robber barons. I grew up in California. All the geographic references to Hopkins, Harriman, Crocker, Stanford, etc. sounded distinguished--until I realized they were just ruthless businessmen. Their railway company(ies) needed the government's help, yet they became billionaires from the railway land grant economic spinoffs.

So in short, hugely expensive infrastructure projects with no change of recouping their initial investment need government help. The upfront expenses are too high, the economic payback is too slow, and there's a lot of risk. Ditto with the interstates, airports, etc.

I'm not sure why you broached the Staggers Act.
I do not know what it is with this infrastructure relies only on government funds myth with you people.

By "entirely" private I am referring to the railroads today, which I have made very clear in previous posts. Privately owned railroads have spent $550 billion since 1980 building, maintaining and growing their 140,000-mile rail network. That amount equals 40 cents of every revenue dollar. Even during the economic downturn, America’s freight railroads spent approximately $25 billion annually to build and maintain the most efficient rail system in the world. In 2014, that investment is expected to increase to an estimated $26 billion, helping to keep America competitive. This investment includes $13 billion in projected capital expenditures, or CapEx, which go toward upgrading or enhancing rail network capacity. “While most other transportation modes rely on government funds, America’s freight railroads operate on infrastructure they own, maintain and upgrade to serve their customers and power our economy,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. In recent years, railroads have been spending roughly 17 percent of their annual revenue on capital expenditures, compared with the average U.S. manufacturer that spends roughly 3 percent of revenue on capital expenditures. And they are all entirely privately financed as well as incredibly profitable. That is an incontrovertible fact.

What is true is that the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads are prime examples of government financed railroads. They received per-mile subsidies from the federal government in the form of low-interest loans as well as massive land grants. This is what built the famed Transcontinental railroad. However, what is not so well known is how poorly the Transcontinental was built. It was so poorly built it had to be rebuilt.

The names you mention are indeed some notorious ones. But what do they have to do with entirely privately financed roads? Nothing. Because their roads were financed by government subsidies. However, the Great Northern railroad was not. The Great Northern was the first transcontinental railroad built by private money and without government aid. James J. Hill built the Great Northern without government help while other robber barons relied heavily on some form of government subsidy. Hill purchased Jay Cooke's Northern Pacific, which had been a road financed by the government. The NP was built incredibly poorly and was driven into bankruptcy. After Hill purchased the line with private money he directed work and workers began laying rails twice as quickly as the NP crews had, and even at that speed he built what everyone at the time considered to be the highest-quality line. And this was all being done by private money. No government. The efficiency of Hill's micromanagement of the GN lead to cost cutting. Cost reductions were passed to customers via lower rates. Also, the Great Northern didn't want to become dependent on a single crop and therefore subject to the uncertainties of price fluctuation, as the southern lines you mentioned were.

Hill's Great Northern was, consequently, the "best constructed and most profitable of all the world's major railroads." Hill's Great Northern was the only transcontinental railroad that never went bankrupt.

The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 created the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads. For each mile of track built Congress gave these companies a section of land. as well as a sizable loan: $16,000 per mile for track built on flat prairie land; $32,000 for hilly terrain; and $48,000 in the mountains. As was the case with Jay Cooke's Northern Pacific, these railroads tried to build as quickly and as cheaply as possible in order to take advantage of the subsidies. Where James J. Hill would be obsessed with finding the shortest route for his railroad, these government-subsidized companies, knowing they were paid by the mile, "sometimes built winding, circuitous roads to collect for more mileage," according to Burton Folsom.

Now I am not saying Hill was a saint. But what I am saying is that your claim that "hugely expensive infrastructure projects with no change of recouping their initial investment need government help" is false. As for the interstate freeways, a lot of people don't seem to realize that the original purpose for the freeway system was not so much commerce as it is for the rapid movement of the military. The interstate was built, according to the act that created it, for the military. Originally Roosevelt wanted to create the freeway system to help spur job growth but the war interfered. It was Eisenhower, who noted the strategic advantage of Germany's autobahn, who brought us the interstate system since he saw it as national defense interest. He considered it important to "protect the vital interest of every citizen in a safe and adequate highway system." But I digress.

I am simply making my assertion based on historical and statistical evidence. But it seems to me you are taking your stance based on ideological bias.
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